by Ty Schadt, Sports Editor
With the River State Conference Tournament looming on the horizon, both the men’s and women’s golf teams are eager to compete for the coveted conference championship. However, both sets of golfers have one more stop in the season beforehand.
On April 10-11, the men will take part in the Midway Spring Tournament in Lexington, Kentucky. The Eagles are fresh off a fourth place finish in the Mid-South Spring Invitational, where they saw two golfers score in the top ten of the 51 competitors present. Freshman Michael Troutman shot a total of 152 over the two-day tournament and tied for sixth place, while junior Matt McCurry shot a combined 153 and tied for eighth. However, moving forward, the Eagles are striving for better than fourth place finishes. “We are looking to finish out the year with back to back victories. We cannot settle for second,” said sophomore Ben Campbell.
The Midway Tournament comes just a week before the team is scheduled to compete for the conference, so it will hopefully help them work out any kinks in their game. “This tournament is good for us to come out strong and win this because we know we can, and it will boost us in a positive direction towards conference,” stated McCurry.
The theme of this season for the Eagles has been development, and a perfect example of the team’s growth is Troutman. The freshman wasn’t a part of the Eagle’s top five golfers during the RSC Fall Preview in October, but has since worked his way into the lineup. Even more so, Troutman has owned the Eagles’ best score at back to back tournaments. “There’s no secret to success,” said Coach Joe Barr. “He’s been our hardest worker, and I believe that’s why he’s putting up the numbers he is.”
The team finished fourth in the RSC Fall Preview, but Barr believes his team has come a long way since then. “In my opinion, we’re the best team in our conference.” It will be interesting to see if the men can reflect Barr’s mindset and finish out the season strong.
Also on April 10-11, the women will travel to Lexington to compete in the Midway Invitational. Coach Nic Robinson has two things he wants to see: solid play from his three seniors, and consistency from the team as a whole. According to Robinson, the upcoming tournament should be a great measuring stick for the conference tournament, considering that most of the teams that will be competing are members of the RSC.
At the turn of the semester, the Eagles gained quite an asset. Freshman Hannah Griffith joined the team and had an immediate impact. In her first tournament, the Faulkner Invitational, she tallied a score of 162. That mark secured Griffith an eighth overall finish, and she followed it up with a fourth place finish at the Tennessee Wesleyan Spring Invitational. “I’m very excited to see her perform in Midway as well as in our conference tournament,” said Robinson.
Senior Julie Spaulding also had an impressive showing at the Faulkner Invitational, shooting 164 and coming in 12th. “It’s vital our seniors play a major role in the last tournament of the year and shoot the scores they’re capable of shooting,” said Robinson.
The ladies proved their competitiveness in the conference in September when they came in 3rd place in the RSC Fall Preview, trailing only Midway and IU East. However, they’ll get another look at Midway in the upcoming tournament before they partake in the RSC Tournament on April 24-25.
Last season, both teams were in the thick of things after Day One of the 2016 RSC Tournament; the men were in second place and the women in third. However, Day Two did not treat the Eagles well. The men dropped to a third place finish and the women withdrew entirely. With that being said, 2017 is a new year, full of new accomplishments and new opportunities. The Conference Title is there for the taking, “It’s just a matter of showing up and playing,” said Barr.